World leaders must respond to the current environmental crisis in the same way they responded to the global financial meltdown of 2008, Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts said on Tuesday.
“When we had to rescue the financial system, nobody asked: ‘Can we afford this? Do we have the money for it?'” Lamberts said. “And now, when it’s about the survival of the planet, we have doubts.”
Lamberts, the co-president of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, was one of three panellists who unanimously agreed that the current for-profit economic models were irreconcilable with the prospect of a sustainable future.
“In this system, the economy is everything. Obviously, you cannot keep the DNA of the current system we are in,” he said, rebuking the notion that investing in the changing the current economic system was a “luxury,” and also comparing it with other historical moments, such as the UK’s decision to rise up against Nazism in the 1940s.
“Do you know when the UK finished repaying war debt? In 2008, when the global financial crisis hit,” Lamberts said, noting that economic concerns should not frame how we approach the problems and look for solutions.
Lamberts was speaking at an event on sustainable development in the European Union, organised one day before the EU Commission is expected to unveil their European Green Deal at a plenary session before MEPs.
The Commission’s deal includes an ambitious goal to reach climate neutrality by 2050, which could pile the pressure on national and local governments to increase their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Belgium, together with other EU member states, is set to meet a 31 December deadline to submit a plan on how it plans to cut down on emission.
Both Brussels’ and Wallonia’s climate plans fall in line with the EU goal to reach climate neutrality by 2050, but Flanders’ recently approved Climate and Energy saw regional leaders bring down emissions-reduction goals for 2030, prompting concerns that the region will fall short of the EU’s 2050 climate goals.